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Jabil: IoT Protocols are the Foundation of a Smart Home

Although most of us could probably count our smart home devices on one hand, they are becoming increasingly integrated into our everyday lives. In fact, the smart home market – which was worth $55.65 billion in 2016 – is projected to shoot up to $174.24 billion by 2025.

But as IoT technology evolves and our homes become more connected, we’ll need all of our devices to be able to interact with each other, their controller and the local wireless connectivity system (e.g., Wi-Fi, Bluetooth). Otherwise, the typical IoT ecosystem doesn’t flow as smoothly as it should. And isn’t the whole point of a smart home to make our lives easier?

Smart devices manufactured by different brands often speak slightly or even very different languages because there is no generally accepted data communication protocol. This makes it difficult for devices in the IoT ecosystem to communicate with each other, thereby hampering semantic interoperability. It is almost as if they understand every other word or a small cluster of words the other device is transmitting. This poor interoperability diminishes the convenience and efficiency these devices are supposed to offer users.

To ensure a strong IoT ecosystem, some consumers and businesses might become brand-aligned and purchase devices from the same product families. For example, a homeowner might upgrade his or her home with a refrigerator, washer and dryer from the same brand and use a smartphone to control all of them. However, these devices still need to connect with the user’s home Wi-Fi in a plug-and-play fashion to enable easy setup. From there, the devices need to effortlessly maintain that connection to ensure that they are ready to work when the user needs them.

It is likely that users will want to integrate a product from another brand into their IoT ecosystem at some point. This opens up the inter-device data communication issue again. Many smaller devices are intended for self-installation by the user, and if installation and integration are not simple enough, users will have more headaches than they bargained for. In addition, if the devices do not follow the same cybersecurity protocols, the smart network could have holes that allow hackers to steal information or alter the IoT system.

IoT Protocols Would Benefit OEMs and Users Alike

In Jabil’s Smart Home Technology Trends survey, 99% of 215 decision-makers at companies that produce smart home products agreed that there is value in having data communication standards. The specific potential benefits to tech companies are wide-ranging. IoT protocols would:

  • drive the opportunity to build hubs that manage all connected devices
  • speed up user adoption of smart home and business devices because users will not have to grapple with device integration challenges
  • allow companies to focus on their core strengths instead of worrying about connectivity issues
  • enable brand owners to capture rich data sets by correlating with other types of connected devices
  • simplify payments for up-selling and cross-selling opportunities

Of course, data communication standards would also benefit the end-customer. Ideally, after a user plugs in a new device and turns it on, the device will connect with the local network to seamlessly join the IoT ecosystem. This hassle-free, user-friendly network protocol strategy would allow consumers to easily install a connected device on their own.

Simplifying things could prove beneficial to the 96% of our recent survey participants who reported challenges in delivering the desired customer experience with their solutions. If nothing else, it could lead to a big pay-off for the 98% who acknowledged that delivering an exceptional customer experience opens up opportunities for smart home solutions.

Download the Smart Home Technology Trends Survey.

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